As the U.S. heads into a new Presidency and a new Congress, a group of electric vehicle makers and other stakeholders have allied to coordinate all the aspects that will foster real growth for EVs in America.
Called Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA), it has a stated goal of enabling 100% electric-vehicle sales—including light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty vehicles—by 2030. ZETA counts Tesla, Lucid, Rivian, and Lordstown Motors among its members. Each of these companies is all-electric, and is building or planning to build electric vehicles in the United States. Electric bus maker Proterra is also part of the organization, as is Arrival, which is building an electric-bus factory in South Carolina.
JuiceBox connected chargers
In addition to vehicle manufacturers, the roster includes Uber, charging networks EVgo and ChargePoint, charging-equipment manufacturer Enel X, and utilities Con Edison, PG&E Corporation, and Duke Energy.
ZETA will likely function primarily as a lobbying group, pushing federal policymakers to enact measures favorable to electric vehicles.
That includes lifting the 200,000-unit production cap for the $7,500 federal EV tax credit, and making the credit available at “point of sale.” That means the amount is immediately deducted from the purchase price, rather than credited when buyers file their taxes.
Proterra Catalyst electric bus
Other policy goals include incentives for trading in gasoline or diesel vehicles, and federal emissions standards that would send the “correct market signals” to manufacturers on electrification.
A revived “Cash for Clunkers” program was mentioned as part of President-elect Joe Biden’s green agenda during the campaign, although it’s unclear if that would include commercial vehicles. Stricter European Union emissions standards have led to increased EV production for the European market, so perhaps that could be replicated in the U.S.
The goal of 100% electric-vehicle sales by 2030 is fairly ambitious, considering that only California has discussed banning sales of internal-combustion vehicles so far—and not until 2035.
California’s powerful Air Resources Board, under Mary Nichols, had already pushed toward 100% zero-emission vehicles (including plug-in hybrids) by 2030. Although that has been sidelined somewhat by challenges from the Trump administration, Nichols is on the shortlist to be EPA administrator under the Biden administration.
It’s worth noting that no automaker that makes internal-combustion vehicles is a member of ZETA. As the organization progresses, will full-line automakers that have cooperated with California’s goals, like Ford, BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, and Volvo, join? The group won’t say yet; but with full-on commitments to transition away from internal combustion, that might just happen.